book review

Letdown With a Resonating Message | 99 Days by Katie Cotugno

Friday, June 23, 2017

99 Days by Katie Cotugno

Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: 4/21/15
Pages: 384
Source: purchased
Add it on Goodreads

Day 1: Julia Donnelly eggs my house my first night back in Star Lake, and that’s how I know everyone still remembers everything—how I destroyed my relationship with Patrick the night everything happened with his brother, Gabe. How I wrecked their whole family. Now I’m serving out my summer like a jail sentence: Just ninety-nine days till I can leave for college, and be done.

Day 4: A nasty note on my windshield makes it clear Julia isn’t finished. I’m expecting a fight when someone taps me on the shoulder, but it’s just Gabe, home from college and actually happy to see me. “For what it’s worth, Molly Barlow,” he says, “I’m really glad you’re back.”

Day 12: Gabe got me to come to this party, and I’m actually having fun. I think he’s about to kiss me—and that’s when I see Patrick. My Patrick, who’s supposed to be clear across the country. My Patrick, who’s never going to forgive me. 


Molly can hardly face her hometown, after everything that has happened. Her mom still shows no remorse in making her daughter’s love life into her next bestselling book. Her boyfriend has moved on with someone new. Her boyfriend’s brother, the guy Molly slept with, is working on getting her back. But she is still hated by most in her small town of Star Lake, New York. However, she has 99 days until college orientation and then she is out of here forever. 

Infuriating Story

  • I liked the narrative but the continuous back and forth of Molly’s intentions were a bit annoying. She went from being in the wrong to becoming justified in her position. It was too much for the amount of pages it was.
  • Throughout reading I had the sense of history repeating itself. Similar to the constant back and forth with Molly’s actions, I began dreading the days ahead for her.
  • It was incredibly infuriating to have this undecided decision of which boy should I choose? Not making a decision was only making Molly’s situation worse. I understand there wouldn’t be a book if it didn’t take her this long to make up her mind but, seriously, choose a guy already OR she could have chosen no one (choosing no guy and going along on your merry way is a decision that many book characters seem to forget).
  • I immensely enjoyed the snippets of non-boy drama scenes, like where she was struggling in picking a major for college or her girls’ night out. Those were probably the best parts because her boy trouble was so stressful that even her mom thought it would make a bestselling book.

Structure and Style

  • I absolutely love the cover, the inside cover, and the style of the book. It is just so pretty and really draws you in.
  • The structure is not something readers see every day. It was fresh and fun, counting up to (you guessed it!) 99 days until college orientation.
  • The setting takes place in Star Lake, New York. It’s interesting that the small town is highlighted. It’s always nice to hear about real places in fictional books, especially small towns (think Forks, Washington). Having the book set in a non-fictional place, it makes you a part of the story. It is a place that you could actually go visit to be a part of the world.
  • Some of the mentions, however, leave the book a bit outdated. You can immediately tell it was written by someone much older than a teen, which breaks the magic connection for the book and its reader. For example, our narrator mentioned the Catskill Game Farm, which, in fact, I frequented as a child but it permanently closed in 2006. In calculating the narrator’s age, when the book was set, and other factors, it is clear that the author just wanted to throw that one in there. It’s like those quirks of having a teen protagonist love 60s music or whatnot, it just makes the character less relatable than she could have been.

Messages that Stay with You

  • I think many of the books I’ve read are usually on the other side of the equation, where the other party feels wronged and lashes out. In seeing this side, where Molly is the victim of bullying, I think it’s good of Cotugno to bring our attention to it because, no matter what, bullying is wrong.
  • The message is powerful but not always clear. However, it is something that definitely should be heard.
  • Not only is there the somewhat unclear message about bullying, there is an abundantly clear message how boys don’t get ridiculed for sleeping with multiple girls but girls get bullied for messing with multiple boys.
  • As much as that message is clear in the end, the story itself is too frustrating to be anything else. Without the message to tie it together, there is actually little point to the whole story otherwise.

Overall

99 Days by Kate Cotugno was a letdown but had a resonating message and a fresh narrative which will be sure to keep you reading to the end. 


book discussion

How to Conquer Your TBR Pile

Thursday, June 22, 2017

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a bookworm in possession of many books, must be in want of more books.”


No matter how hard I try, book buying bans do not work from me. Instead, if I put myself on a ban, I will buy more books than if I were not on the ban. #nocontrol However, I will never stop trying to conquer my TBR pile. And, though it’s no secret, there are certain steps you can take to conquer your never-ending TBR.

Surprisingly, I am slowly defeating the pile. I couldn’t believe that I only read 30 books last year so I made 2017 the year that I attempt to read all the books I own. AND IT’S WORKING! Here’s the steps I’m following to attack my TBR pile and win:

Step 1: Make a Goal

In the beginning of the year, I knew I wanted to read more books than last year. I decided the best way to do that is to make a goal but not just the general: conquer my TBR goal. It needs to be a specific goal. I promised to read 100 pages a day. And even though, there are some days that I just don’t have time to reach 100 pages or to read at all. However, I try to make reading a priority over that show I’ve been meaning to watch or that restaurant I’ve been wanting to try.

STEP 2: Organize TBR Shelf into Sections

I have loads of books on my to-read pile. Too many to fit on one shelf. However, the best way that I have found to beat my pile is to organize the many TBR shelves into sections. Put the books you want to read right away—the ones you’re most excited for—in a shelf you will most likely see all the time. Organize the rest of the books by way of how much you want to read them too. I just moved all my books around the other day. I tend to want to read more fantasy and contemporary during the summer so I’m highlighting them on my shelves for the season.

STEP 3: Read Books

This step speaks for itself. And, it just so happens, it is the most important step of them all. Nothing will get done if you don’t follow this step. Read those books in your pile.

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STEP 4: Refrain from Buying/Receiving Books

If the previous step was the most important, this step is the most impossible step. It is so difficult to refrain from getting all those books on my want-list. There are so many amazing books that keep releasing! However, in order to conquer that TBR, buy/receive less than what you’ve read this year.

STEP 5: Repeat Steps When Necessary

It’s called a never-ending TBR because it’s, well, never-ending. It won’t go away but the TBR can be conquered. It can be defeated. You, as the reader, can be in control. Turn that ceiling-high pile into a pile that spans your foot size. Repeat the steps above and start getting your TBR in control today. (Oh my, did I just sound like one of those bad infomercials?)

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How many books do you have in your TBR pile? How do you conquer your TBR?

Top Ten Tuesday

Top 10 Series I've Been Meaning to Start But Haven't

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

A few weeks ago, I did a post in which I discussed the book series I started but haven't finished. What another great way to share my failures as a reader to you than show you all the book series I haven't started yet but am meaning to. 😄 Am I the only one who could list a never-ending amount of series? It was difficult to pick my top ten.

Top Ten Tuesday is created and hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's topic is: Top 10 Series I've Been Meaning to Start But Haven't.


His Fair Assassin series by Robin LaFevers: I love the tagline for the first book: Why be the sheep when you can be the wolf? Very intriguing, the series sounds exactly like something I would love.

The Raven Cycle series by Maggie Stiefvater: This one is a surprise, I know. Actually, you might also be surprised that I have never read a book written by Stiefvater. Crazy. I do own a lot of her books and hope to start this series soon.

Bloodlines series by Richelle Mead: I bought the first three books in the series while I was finished up her Vampire Academy series. I loved that series so even though this one is a sort of spin-off series about Adrian, who I didn't really care for in Vampire Academy, I wanted to give it a go. I've waited a bit too long because I'm not in vampire mode anymore. Maybe someday.


The Gold Seer trilogy by Rae Carson: I've been hearing so many good things about this one. Plus, it's set during the Gold Rush. More books should be set during the Gold Rush; it's an era you don't really hear about often.

The Great Library series by Rachel Caine: I must have been living under a rock when these released. I don't recall hearing anything about this series until I spied the second book in the store. Rachel Caine is one of my favorite authors so this is an automatic series on my TBR.

The Darkest Minds series by Alexandra Bracken: These books have been on my shelf for so long. In the beginning of this year, I read her time traveling adventure book series, Passenger, and adored them so I definitely should give these a try soon. 


Falling Kingdoms series by Morgan Rhodes: My brother swears this is the best series ever. I always tell myself that I will read more fantasy books and I never do. I must change this, starting with this series.

Starbound series by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner: I own the first two books in this trilogy but still haven't started it. The covers are very pretty to look at though. It's also science fiction which is one genre I tend not to like so I've been putting this series off.

Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas: I know what you're going to say. What are you waiting for? Well, at least, I finished A Court of Thorns and Roses, right? This series is super long but I recently acquired the first in the series so should be starting it sometime this summer (hopefully!).


Shadow and Bone trilogy by Leigh Bardugo: Ever since I read the Six of Crows duology, I've been waiting for the chance to read this series. A lot of people say that this series, set in the Grishaverse, is not as good as Six of Crows. But I definitely want to give it a go!

What series have been meaning to get to but haven't yet? Have you read the series above? What did you think of them? Give me some awesome series recommendations!

book review

Filled with Rainbows and Puppy-Dogs | Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han

Friday, June 16, 2017

Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han

Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Publication Date: 5/2/17
Pages: 336
Source: purchased
Add it to Goodreads

Lara Jean’s letter-writing days aren’t over in this surprise follow-up to the New York Times bestselling To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and P.S. I Still Love You.

Lara Jean is having the best senior year a girl could ever hope for. She is head over heels in love with her boyfriend, Peter; her dad’s finally getting remarried to their next door neighbor, Ms. Rothschild; and Margot’s coming home for the summer just in time for the wedding.

But change is looming on the horizon. And while Lara Jean is having fun and keeping busy helping plan her father’s wedding, she can’t ignore the big life decisions she has to make. Most pressingly, where she wants to go to college and what that means for her relationship with Peter. She watched her sister Margot go through these growing pains. Now Lara Jean’s the one who’ll be graduating high school and leaving for college and leaving her family—and possibly the boy she loves—behind.

When your heart and your head are saying two different things, which one should you listen to?


Lara Jean and all of your favorite characters are back in the last and final book in Jenny Han’s contemporary series. It’s senior year and everything is going well. Lara Jean has a boyfriend, good grades and an amazing family. Now all she has to do is wait for confirmation that she has gotten into the college of her dreams. When college acceptances start rolling in, the unexpected happens which forces Lara Jean to change her plans, change her future. Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han is an adorable tale that will be sure to warm your heart.

  • It is always good to come back to an amazing series. Stepping my feet into the gorgeous life of Lara Jean—the wonderful characters we have grown to love, and the adorable family life Lara Jean has—it was like coming home. 
  • When I opened the book to the first page, I expected a cute, realistic story. Jenny Han does not disappoint. It seems with each new installment, Lara Jean and Kitty and the whole Song family (and maybe all the characters) keep getting cuter. To be honest, the book doesn’t pick up until page 80, when we start to get into the meat or the conflict of the story. Until then, it is the adorableness that we have grown to expect from a Lara Jean novel.
  • The contemporary genre should definitely welcome more series. I think getting to know these characters for three novels and being a part of Lara Jean’s life for so many milestones was a truly gorgeous time. The story came together for each novel seamlessly. 
  • Jenny Han is a wonderful writer, she excels in the contemporary genre, truly bringing everything to life. This is a series you can return to again and again.
  • There is little development and a plot that is not too exciting. However despite that, I absolutely loved every second of this book. I was never bored. I think with this book, it was more of spending as much time with these characters as I could before the end.
  • In my review for Han’s sequel, P.S. I Still Love You, I mentioned that the ending seemed so indecisive. It wasn’t anything special, a satisfying end that was just okay. So I’m happy that Jenny Han took the time to continue the story, in Always and Forever, Lara Jean, and make a gorgeous ending that will have you smiling so much that your cheeks start to hurt.
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Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han is an adorable puppy dog of a book, it comes running up to you so happily and even when it leaves, the smile on your face doesn’t vanish. Jenny Han welcomed us into Lara Jean’s realistic and fantastic life and, though this is the last book, Lara Jean will always and forever stay in our hearts.


P.S. I Still Love You (5/26/15): 4 stars

book tag

The Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag (2017)

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Can you believe the last time I participated in a tag was in 2015? I rarely do tags but when I saw this one over at Lost in a Story, how could I not join in? It's a great way to share all the amazing books I've read so far this year. So far in 2017, since this morning, I've read a total of 57 books so it's about time I've shared some of my favorites with you.


The best book you've read so far in 2017:


A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas: I am so late to this fandom but hello, here I am. This book was absolute perfection. The story unfolded so well, the character development was on point, and the world building went beyond the retelling of the first one. So fantastic!

Your favorite sequel of the year:


Wayfarer by Alexandra Bracken: I love me some fantastic time travel any day. Passenger was just okay for me. It wasn't spectacular and the ending seemed like such a cheat that I wasn't sure I wanted to continue. I am so happy I did because Wayfarer takes what you know about generic sequels are throws all of it away, seeming to start with a new slate, it goes beyond the limits of the first. Amazing!

A new release that you haven't read but really want to:


When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon: This released at the end of May and I haven't been able to snag a copy yet. It seems everyone is reading it now and I haven't read one bad review on it. I wasn't sure at first if I should pick this up or not. It's about an arranged marriage, promising to be the next big rom-com. However, with all the hype, I'm getting sucked into maybe giving it a try.

Most anticipated release for the second half of the year:


Lucky in Love by Kasie West (7/25/17): I discovered Kasie West last year and she has definitely become an auto-buy author for me. Every contemporary she writes is filled with cuteness that I simply can't pass up. In this one, the protagonist wins the lottery and suddenly, she doesn't know who she can trust. She falls for a guy who doesn't ask for anything in return.

There's Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins (9/26/17): When I first heard about this book, I couldn't believe it. I thought this was a joke. Stephanie Perkins, the author who wrote adorable romances like Anna and the French Kiss and Isla and the Happily Ever After is back and this time, she's trying her hand at the horror genre.

Sparks of Light by Janet B. Taylor (8/1/17): You know how I love my time travels! This is the sequel of Into the Dim, the debut that rocked my world! It's finally-almost here. Set in Scotland, Hope finds herself part of a time traveling gang. I can't wait for all the Doctor Who references and action packed adventures!

Your biggest disappointment:


A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas: Since A Court of Mist and Fury was such perfection, I was expected the next book in the series to follow in its footsteps. I was a bit disappointed to find that it didn't even come close to perfect. Instead, it wobbled with a redundant ending, long-winded scenes about politics, and blatant foreshadowing that gave the whole book away. 

Biggest surprise of the year:


The Wrath and the Dawn duology by Renee Ahdieh: I was happily surprised that I loved these books! I've read a retelling of A Thousand and One Nights before and it wasn't for me, but The Wrath and the Dawn weaved the story a little differently and I felt myself as mesmerized by the second as much as I was by the first.

Favorite new-to-you or debut author:


Leigh Bardugo (author of Six of Crows duology): This series has absolutely everything! An impossible heist, an amazing cast of characters, and incredible world building will leave you wanting more. I must read more of her books now!

Your fictional crush:


Rhysand from A Court of Thorns and Roses series by Sarah J. Maas: It's no surprise that I found Rhys irresistible. At first, I was on the fence but Rhys won me over with his gorgeous charm and smoldering looks. 

Arin from The Winner's Curse trilogy by Marie Rutkoski: I adore everything about Arin. He has so much patience and is incredibly sweet. 

New favorite character:


Kaz and the gang from Six of Crows duology by Leigh Bardugo: I know I'm repeating myself but, seriously, this cast of characters is so well-written with incredible development and amazing back stories. 

A book that made you cry:


King's Cage by Victoria Aveyard: This book released early on this year and was a gem. It was my most anticipated book of the year and as soon as I got it in my hands, I devoured it. The ending shattered me. I'm still shaking my head at the injustice.

A book that made you happy:


Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han: It was sad to finish the last in the Lara Jean series but this book made my heart so happy. It was nostalgic, giving me all the graduation feels. Plus, the romance between Peter and Lara Jean and the amazing Song girls add so much cuteness to the mix, it's hard not to smile the whole time. 

The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson: This book was filled with happiness! If you want to make me smile, add: summer vibes, adorable dogs, and a fantastic cast of characters. Yes, please.

Your favorite book-to-movie adaptation that you've seen this year:


A Monster Calls: I saw this one in January. Surprisingly, I haven't seen that many book-to-movie adaptations this year. A Monster Calls was good, filled with gorgeous cinematography.

Favorite book post you've done this year:

Thoughts on Watching the TV Show Before Reading the Book: I finally finished Outlander by Diana Gabaldon but only after, I had already watched the first two seasons. It was fun to compare and see how the show and book differ.

The most beautiful book you've bought/received this year:


The Beauty and the Beast by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve: I don't have many collector's editions of books but this one was too gorgeous to pass up. It comes with some interactive items too, including pop outs of the Beast's castle and Belle's library. I cannot wait to read it. Right now, it is safe in its packaging; it's just so beautiful!

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell: Truthfully, I wasn't going to read this one. I wasn't terribly interesting in it since it sounded like a rip off of Harry Potter. However, when this paperback edition recently released with a pull out of the map of the school, I caved. It was so pretty and every time I went to the store, I had to look at it. 

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by J.K. Rowling: Everything about this book is beautiful. The colors work amazingly and the embossed gold lettering on the cover is fantastic. 

What are some books you need to read by the end of the year?

The answer would be "all of them," I am hoping to read as many books on my TBR as possible. But since I can't list that many or this post would be miles long, here's the next 3 books I hope to read:


Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine: This has been on my TBR for so long. I don't even know how I got it. But it's Rachel Caine so it must be amazing. Plus, I have heard some good things about it so I'm excited to finally read it.

And I Darken by Kiersten White: The sequel of this one comes out soon. I am trying to stay on top of series because I'm behind in so many. I know nothing about this except Kiersten White is a fabulous writer and always knows how to make me laugh, there is a princess and maybe an assassin in this one, and that's one pretty cover.

City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare: I know, I know. I need to read this so I can start diving into Lady Midnight and Lord of Shadows, which I own too. Every time I look at the book, it's just so big and I get so nervous about starting it. I don't want anything to happen to my babies, Simon and Jace!

Have you done this tag? If so, I want to read it, link it down below! If not, I tag all of you. Let's get chatting about our favorites of the year so far!